Where Do You Thrive?

If you’re not thriving, you’re dying.

Somebody once told me that some sharks die if they stop swimming. Somebody else told me that when a seed stops growing, it dies.

If you’re not thriving, you’re dying.

How to Thrive

We’ve all been there, right? Life is dragging on like a dead leg and there’s little we can do about it because of our present circumstances. Maybe it’s a girl you just can’t seem to cut loose. Maybe it’s the wrong career. Maybe it’s your friendships.

As I prepared to finish college, my life was at a crossroads. I had seen the potential glories of what God was doing in my life, but I was hindering his mission because I couldn’t let go of my damaging friendships. These were people I loved. People whom I made tremendous memories with during our college years. But these were also people who were “me oriented” and consistently negative.

They always say (whoever “they” is), that you are who you surround yourself with. Isn’t that the truth. I wanted more than good–––I wanted God’s best–––but I couldn’t get it. I was too busy being equally negative by assimilation that I couldn’t see what God was doing right in front of me.

After awhile and some tough decisions, those friends floated away and new ones took their place (the circle of friends continues). Like it or love it, these new friends put me in a position to thrive.

Welcome to Thrive City

In order to thrive, we need to be in an environment that allows us to thrive. What’s your environment?

Lately, my environment has been the city library. I love it. The wi-fi is good and I can see all of downtown from any of my favorite fourth floor windows.

When you’re in a library, you get to be a small fish in a giant pond, surrounded by thousands of published works by people who are/were the premiere thought-creators in their field. To me, the library says, “There’s so much knowledge in here to go around. Grab some.”

So I do. I’ll write a few emails. Then grab a book. Work for a few hours. Then grab another. In a few moments, I’ll pick up the book sitting next to me, Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin. I might read a chapter or the entire thing, but my goal is to live outside of the knowledge that’s currently housed within my brain.

If you’re not thriving, you’re dying.

Where Do You Thrive?

So where do you thrive? The library has been working for me lately. For you, it might be Tom Sawyer Island. It might be your office that has the comfy couch for napping keeping clients comfortable. We’d love to hear about it, so let us know in the comments below.

It’s Time. The Quarterlife #48States Road Trip is here.

I never thought I would do it again.

Last year, I traveled the world, United States, half of the United States with Alex Workman. We conquered 21 states, going as far west as Fort Worth while riding on the Megabus. We endured sleepless nights (Nashville), smelly vagabonds (Richmond), and drivers who forget to get gas (Little Rock). All in all, I was left tired, yet thankful for what God did on that trip.

I never thought I would do it again. And yet, we’re here. Starting this Friday, I will leave for the grandaddy of them all: the Quarterlife #48States Road Trip, presented by Fanpass

It’s just as it sounds. I will be traveling throughout all 48 contiguous United States, including a small spell in Canada, until sometime in October. It’ll be the equivalent of driving two-thirds of the circumference of the earth. You’ll be able to follow me via social media as I travel around the country:


I’ll be tweeting on all three accounts. You can also follow me on my personal Instagram:


In addition to the Quarterlife instagram and the Fanpass instagram. I will also be updating our followers on Facebook, via both the Quarterlife Man and Fanpass accounts. And YouTube. And Vine.

Just kidding, Vine is dead.

Are You Excited?

Typically, two things happen when I tell people about the #48States Road Trip. First they say, “Omgomgomgg, I want to come!” And then they ask, “Are you excited?”

Yes. Yes, I’m excited.

I am excited because I get to see every state. I get to travel around the country saying hello to old friends and making new ones. I get to see Jesus show up in places I never thought he could. I get to see preconceived biases get torn down as I physically see how people in this country live and love.

I am excited because I get to share all of this with you. Expect more sharing than you can handle.

Pray For Me

I am humbled by the amount of support I have received thus far. Last Sunday, our entire launch team at Shoreline was laying hands on me or extending them. Throughout the planning process, I’ve had countless people who have encouraged me and co-labored in this effort.

It won’t be easy, but by the power of the Holy Spirit and the strength of your prayers, this will be one amazing trip.

Coming For ‘Ya

I’ll be in your town, soon.

The trip will begin on Friday as I depart from my hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida, criss-crossing every part of this country until I touch down in all 48 of the contiguous United States (plus Canada!).

Get ready! I would love to say hello. Tell me where I should go and what I should see in the comments; I’ll be doing as many crazy things as I can with you guys. You can also reach out on Twitter, too.

P.S.: We’ll also be giving away an iPad along the way, but more on that later.

[alert style=”success”] Where must I stop? What must I do? Want to give some #48States encouragement? Let me know in the comments below. [/alert]

101 Secrets For Your Twenties (Review)


I think we can all agree: This twentysomething shoot ain’t easy. It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts.” So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

That’s an excerpt from “101 Secrets For Your Twenties” by Paul Angone. He is the founder of AllGroanUp.com, as well as a speaker, humorist, story-teller–––because really––––which of us doesn’t want to be those things? As a wanna-be humorist (I try, folks), Paul’s words resonated with me as I flipped every page.

The Skinny

In short, 101 Secrets is exactly like it sounds: 101 tips for twenty-somethings that range from relationship advice to career monotony and back again.

He writes in a format that makes for a very quick read. I finished it in two relatively short sittings, and I don’t think that’s a knock on Angone. In fact, I consider it a plus. The ease of readability made me not want to set this book down.

Some tips are merely a heading with no need to expound, while others are fully flegded chapters. The mixture of both provides an attainable pace that allows the reader to enjoy the journey, which is what being a twenty-something is all about.

The Score

This is a fun read. Paul’s usage of bouncing around from topic to topic proved to be the path to least resistance for this reader (who has a mile high stack of yet-to-be-reads). At some points I wish Paul would’ve taken a larger crack at some topics, but overall, I feel better equipped to handle my late twenties. 4 stars out of 5.

You can preorder your copy of 101 Secrets For Your Twenties here. The book drops on July 1.

Freely Given, Apathetically Received

Timothy Kayera spoke with been-there-done-that confidence. He grew stronger with each word, pulling me closer with the fire of his conviction. And then he summarized everything I believe about charity. In four words.

I used to work with one of those organizations that gave stuff away to everyone. We’d give away animals, clothing and clean water. All for free. I remember when we’d give goats to people, I would get phone calls and they’d say, “Timothy, your goat is dead.”

Your goat is dead. I’ve tried to articulate this idea dozens of times over the years, but never this potently. In four words, the caller said:

  • It was never his goat in the first place,
  • It was inconsequential it died, and
  • It was Timothy’s job to replace it.

Kayera is a star in Rwanda’s promising cast of young leaders. He directs HOPE’s efforts in a region of Rwanda and he emphasized the difference of his new job. His work now creates dignity, not dependency. Partnership, not pity. Timothy joins a chorus of Rwandans in this song, from the president of the country to “Rwanda’s Desmond Tutu.”

[The poor] are as capable, as competent, as gifted, and as talented as anyone else…In society, you must create opportunities to help people develop their capacity and talents. – Paul Kagame

We need to move from aid to production, from existing to living. It’s high time we stop telling our people they can’t do it. They can, yes. And we shall do it. – Bishop John Ruchyahana

Timothy, President Kagame and Bishop Ruchyahana share this opinion: Traditional charity erodes the nature of people and the fabric of society. When giveaways permeate, they communicate a clear message: What you lack, I provide. Where you are weak, I am strong. When you can’t, I can. It’s a bad message, preventing people from hearing the better message from their Creator:I made you to make. I designed you to design. You are blessed to bless others. When charity runs its course—as it has in many places in Rwanda, Haiti and elsewhere—it lures the poor with handouts and traps them on unneeded life support. But that’s why Timothy got out of that business. He saw its destructive path and cut the cord before it strangled.

Today he anchors his work on who people are created to be and what we are designed to do. He doesn’t lure with goodies. Instead, he demands hard work from those he serves. People like Rachel. I saw the future of Rwanda in her. Rachel showed me the house she built and the 16 pigs she purchased over the past two years. She showed me the litters of piglets she’s bred and the piles of fertilizer she sells. But Rachel isn’t filling her barns for herself. I asked her what her dreams are and she said, “The greatest joy of these pigs is that I am now able to share with my church and with others.”


Rachel didn’t beg for cash or stoop in compliance. She stood tall as a confident merchant, wife and mother. She did not avert her gaze. Her eyes were strong and generous. Rachel wasn’t the product of charity. She simply knew who she was created to be.

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

The Fall of Giants: The Lost Art of Learning From Our Past

The decline and fall of civilizations throughout history was nearly always man-made, and most often came in the disguise of social justice, unaccountable welfare, perceived protection, and undefined fairness. If modern society continues to duplicate the failed ideological actions of civilizations past, why should they expect a different outcome? Just because you have more money in modern times to throw at the failed ideas of celebrity politicians doesn't mean they will work any better. Those ideas will now only cost more, do more damage, and quicken the decline and fall.

Socialism, Progressivism, Communism, Marxism… all failed ideologies that resulted in the eventual demise of every society they infiltrated. So why are these ideologies embraced so readily by the youth and misguided of today's America? Simple really, they are no longer taught the lessons of history that where so fondly embraced by our forefathers. They where not shown, or refuse to accept, the shortcomings of those ideologies. Convinced somehow that this time the result will be different, and that the reason it will be is because they are not the same people that tried these same things before. All the while not realizing that they are in fact an identical reflection of those that tried and failed before them, who thought themselves somehow different than those that preceded them.

Our Constitution was drafted specifically to take note of the failings of past societies, and capitalize on the successes. Great men debated laboriously over every detail and word. The words of the Constitution where not made for "interpretation", but for application. And as times and needs changed, it was meant to be added to, and refined, not disregarded and replaced by regulation and rules set by soft-tyranical politicians. Contentious issues of the day, such as slavery, where carefully considered by those who hoped that the great Republic they where building would have the tools necessary to end such a deplorable matter of owning the life of another man. These men did not seek to make a perfect Republic, but instead sought to create one that would always be in a state of perfecting. Always improving, always expanding liberty, freedom, and honor. 

Until as a society we embrace the lessons of our past, and the wisdom of those who sought to protect us from it, we are simply following the same script that so many civilizations before us have followed. Our fall and demise will be no less dramatic, or significant. Simply another failed society that future generations will look upon and wonder how a giant such as we were could have fallen so far and left so little in the matters of freedom and liberty for those to come after us.

Jesus, You Are Greater Than Who We Are

Who am I, Lord, that you are mindful of me? // Ps. 8:3-4 

This question used to make me feel really good inside, as if it highlighted the great value in “high significant” me that somehow compelled the God of the Universe to take a captivating interest in. What a narcissistic and inwardly-distorting way to read this verse–at least on the surface–and so falsely and terribly give ‘spiritually right’ confirmation to my already sinful, self-absorbed heart. A rotten heart exploiting the Bible to make it increasingly rotten. What a tragedy to not see beyond myself, and the need to be rescued from incessant naval gazing.

Me: “Man, I must be really important if God is this mindful of me”.

But I was reading this verse so foolishly, through the distorted lens of my own, inherent and deep depravity. What I misunderstood for so long is that the verse does not as much lend emphasis on us as it does to emphasize the nature of God. The verse highlights the indescribable, baffling nature of the completely unobligated sovereign of the Universe, who lovingly pursues, redeems, and rewards creation rebels through unreasonable, unmerited grace.

“Who am I, that You would be mindful of me?” is the psalmist’s response to feeling the overwhelming grace of God in his life. Who is this psalmist, that he would ever deserve the work of God in his life? What had he done to possibly receive such loving attention, care, blessing, security, provision, and salvation from God? The psalmist is overwhelmed by the sheer weightiness of this unmerited, unreasonable, but so refreshingly good grace.

See, the question “Who am I, that You are mindful of me?” doesn’t answer who we are—at least, directly. It answers the question of who we are in light of who God is. Who are we? is answered in who He is.

The letter of our life receives its worth and meaning from its greater envelope, which is addressed, stamped, sealed with the significance of its Author and Sender. A letter ultimately does not make sense without the authorship and seal of its Bearer. In fact, regardless of how great the credentials the letter bears, without the name, it is rendered arbitrary–lost of meaning and identity, which are the two necessary intangibles that give life and understanding to the words on the page.

Similarly, the meaning of our life is enveloped in Him, and enraptured in His greater story that is going on right now as you read this. Who we are is only understood in light of who God is. And we can’t see ourselves rightly until we first see God rightly–the One who designed, purposed, and breathed life into us all along.  *Quick side-note: how could the creation dismiss the Creator’s intentions for it, as if they don’t exist, or are wrong? It is illogically inconceivable.

And so, we were made by and for God (Rom 11:36; Col 1:16). And He invites us into His story–where we begin to understand that the gravity of who we are is weighed in part to the greater, more compelling truth of who He is.

And His nature and His character for us, if anything, is most highly demonstrated in the face of Jesus Christ, where He proved that He loved us so much that He wasn’t ever willing to let us go–to leave us in our muck of sin and lifeless, hollow depravity (2 Co 4:6). He soaked up our sin so that we could bask in His reward. He became a slave so that we could become sons. He switched places with us, because of love–who He is (1 Jn 4:19).

We are sinful, but Your grace is greater still. (2 Co 5:21)

We are dead, but You made us alive in Christ. (Eph 2:5-9)

We are weak, but You are strong, and our strength. (2 Co 12:10)

We have no credentials, but we wear the badges of Your accomplishments. (Rom 8:17)

We have no real family, but we become Your sons through Your blood. (Gal 3:26)

Indeed, the question of “who are we?” is answered in who He is. The smaller part of ‘Who are we?’ is totaled in the highest significance of Who He is. For, our identity is completely and inseparably dependent on His.

We were made for infinitely more, and this infinitely more is the infinite God (Ps. 16:11, Jn 10:10). There is none like You (Is. 46:5, Jer 10:6, Ps 86:8).
Photo: benefit of hindsight (CC)

Turn In Your Arms, The Government Will Take Care Of You

Late last month two billboards appeared in Greeley, Colorado in which an image of three Native Americans are used to make a gun rights argument, and a controversy has arisen over the perceived insensitive nature of the message. For those who don’t know the back story of the plight of Native Americans, making light of atrocities the federal government committed against Native Americans may not be the best way to argue against gun regulations, although the lessons of history are definitely valuable, so perhaps this sort of billboard will at least start some discussion on the matter.

To summarize for those who may not know the history (because it’s not really taught in schools anymore), on December 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment went into a camp to disarm the Lakota Indians that had been corralled there during the mass indian relocations of the late 1800’s.

In the years prior to the massacre, the U.S. Government had been taking the lands of the Lakota, forcing them to surrender their ancestral homes, and be relocated to other reservations to make way for white settlers. This band of Lakota was not where they where supposed to be according to the U.S. Government. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota at wounded knee, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over his rifle escalated and an accidental shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry’s opening fire indiscriminately with a Hotchkiss gun (a revolving barrel machine gun), and rifles, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers.

A few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed. By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. To add insult to this atrocity, the Army awarded twenty Medals of Honor, it’s highest honor to the solders who butchered the Lakota. To date the US government has refused to rescind the awards.

The lesson to learn here is that the Lakota where disarmed out of fear, not for anything they had done wrong. It should be noted that during the course of the indian wars of the 1800s, there was not a single act of violence perpetrated by Native Americans in the Dakotas. In every instance of violence, it was the US Government that was the instigator. Former Pine Ridge Indian agent Valentine T. McGillycuddy stated in a letter to General Leonard W. Colby in 1891, “No citizen in Nebraska or Dakota has been killed, molested or can show the scratch of a pin, and no property has been destroyed off the reservation.” So basically, every tragic death in this time was an unwarranted attack by the U.S. Government against it’s own people.

So while the debate of political correctness over the billboard will surely continue, the underlying message will probably go largely unmentioned. Those who say that the government would never seize your guns will conveniently ignore the times they did just that in the past, including those times in recent history. Typically a societal reaction based on fear and ignorance, resulting in meaningless laws that will do nothing to curb the violence perpetrated by those who choose to ignore them. It is not just about our right to own guns, it about our willingness to surrender that right or not, even in the slightest amount. Because at the end of the day if we are willing to surrender our liberties in this matter, regardless of the degree, what else are we willing to surrender?

Christian Shoddy is Still Shoddy

A tense cloud hovered above the desk that separated us. Meeting in an aging office building in a small Romanian town,  Dorian articulated a troubling reality about his organization: Nobody liked it.

I was in Romania to find a good microfinance organization. Friends of HOPE funded an exploratory trip to determine whether Romania would be a good place for us to expand. With a presence nearby in Ukraine, Russia and Moldova; Romania was a natural next step for our expansion. Traveling the country by train for three months, I met with dozens of leaders to learn more about the needs of entrepreneurs  and about the current resources that were available to them in their country. It was largely encouraging, but my meeting with Dorian gave me pause.

Dorian aired many grievances about his clients. His organization planned business training sessions and no clients show up. They offered business loans, but very few paid them back. They offered consulting services, but nobody was buying. Their clients didn't like or value their products. That reality would normally prompt sympathy from me, not frustration. But I felt much more of the latter because of his closing remarks:

We're sad that nobody is showing up for our training sessions or paying back their loans, but you know, we're telling them about Jesus. And that's all that truly matters.

Dorian's comments contained a semblance of truth. I believe wholeheartedly that we need to share Jesus with those we serve. And in that light, Dorian's enthusiasm about the gospel is admirable. But that's where my agreement with him stops.

Slapping an ichthus on a jug of spoiled milk does not honor God. Searing a cross on a hamburger doesn't make it taste like filet mignon. I don't care how "Christian" your school is; if all your students fail, I'm not sending my kid there. We serve a God who created an earth that holds its axis and planets that hold their orbit. God articulated a breathtaking and precise blueprint for his tabernacle. And our God instructs us to do likewise, commanding we do our work with excellence.



Dorian spoke as if creating a substandard product was honoring to God simply because of the words he spoke. But Christian shoddy is still shoddy. Our creator demonstrated superb taste and strong attention to detail in his craftsmanship. When we ignore the needs of our customers, treat them with disdain and "ichthus-wash" it with spirituality, we do not reflect the full nature of our creator.


Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.
Johan Koolwaaij

We Are Not Hoodlums.

I think we've all been there.

You've scoured the Christian section at Barnes and Noble, searching for a jump start. An ignition, if you will, for your lost–––or lonely–––or broken–––life. Invariably, your eyes find the devotional section and you settle on a devotional that might help deliver you from your distance from God.


There's no settling here.

A great friend of mine and Quarterlife writer, Cory Copeland, wrote a devotional called We Are Not Hoodlums. It releases today.

This is not your normal devotional and the cover states it succinctly: "a devotional for the rest of us." Because how often do we head to that Barnes and Noble, only to pick up a devo that leaves us feeling less than? It's as if, unintentionally, these devotional writers come from a higher place to prescribe what we truly need.

Cory did not write this devotional to be seen as a religious authority; you can see it on every page. He wrote this as if to say:

"Hey. I'm over here sitting in the mud. I see you sitting over there in the mud. Can we sit in the mud together?"

To broken people with broken hearts and lives, this is sweetness to the soul. I mean, honestly… who writes about life being unfair? And, furthermore, is genuine about it? It doesn't matter if it's worthiness or loneliness or dream-chasing or chasing our past–––it's all covered with an air of humor and grace.

But then my dear friend set me straight and told me I could write such a book because I was in the same boat as someone who needed it. My own broken walk with God is lacking, so why couldn’t the reader and the writer be cut from the same cloth? Why couldn’t we—you and I—begin a Biblical journey together? Why couldn’t a book of devotions and examinations be written from a place of equality rather than a place of supposed superiority? 

(from We Are Not Hoodlums, introduction)

In total, there's a months worth of reading, if you're a one-devo-a-day type of man. If not, read the whole thing in one sitting because you'll love it. I am recommending this to all of you, my dear readers, because you deserve to walk through the trials of life with laughter, stories, and scripture.

You can find the book in paperback on Amazon here and you find the Kindle version here. Also, it's Cory's birthday today, so do two things:

1) Sing happy birthday into your computer screen, then find him on Twitter (@Cory_Copeland) and wish him a happy birthday.

2) Get on Amazon (here) and download the Kindle version FOR FREE today. Consider it a birthday celebration.



Of Hobbits and Angels

After seeing the new Hobbit movie (in 3D nonetheless), and being a bit of an Inklings nerd, I was left wondering; “If Gandalf keeps saving the dwarves with miraculous power, why doesn’t he just use that power to take them to the end of the quest?” In one instance, when the dwarves are cornered and death is eminent, giant eagles arrive to carry them to safety. Why can’t the birds just take them to the mountain?

Before I endeavor to answer that question, this needs some setup: The Hobbit is about a hobbit named Bilbo, who is invited by a wizard named Gandalf to join a company of dwarves who are going to a mountain to slay a dragon. The interesting part is that Bilbo is a homebody who rarely even leaves his garden, while the dwarves are all veteran warrior-adventurers. It’s kind of like if you got asked to be a walk-on to Seal Team 6. The warriors are annoyed to have an amateur along, and really the only person who thinks Bilbo should be a part of the company is Gandalf himself. Along the way, when the company gets into trouble (wolves, trolls, and other mystical threats), Gandalf appears to assist in the company’s victory, sometimes fighting alongside the company, sometimes using wizard skills to affect the outcome.
Okay, now back to our question about the birds and Gandalfs power:

In a particularly bad situation, the company is cornered with no escape, and Gandalf calls giant eagles to rescue everyone. At the end of an incredibly arduous 24-hour battle, the company finds themselves resting (and even sleeping) on the backs of giant eagles, who take them well out of reach of their enemies to rest and regroup.

Why doesn’t Gandalf call the birds at the beginning? Why set out along the ground in the first place?

I mean, if the goal is to get to the mountain, kill the dragon, and return victorious, wouldn’t getting there faster be better? “And then the company flew to the Mountain, slew the dragon, and returned victorious. The End.”

In a pragmatic sense (assuming the internal logic of a fantasy novel) the answer is “No.” Bilbo would likely get killed in such a scenario. Without the trolls, orcs, swordfights and Gollum he wouldn’t have gotten his sword, discovered the ring, or found his courage. In short, he’d be useless at Lonely Mountain if he arrived unprepared, and it is the Unexpected Journey itself that is preparing him.

Wikipedia says the reason the Eagles don’t offer an express ticket to Lonely Mountain is because they are sentient beings and, while happy to do Gandalf a favor, it’s just that – a favor. They have their own stories to attend to.

The Bilbo from the Shire is not the Bilbo the company needs for the Unexpected Journey. The Bilbo the company needs is formed in the course of the Journey.

Why am I asking such questions in a Theology of Culture post?

It’s a big surprise, but Gandalf really plays the role of God in these films. (Although if you want to get picky, he’s more like Melchizedek or the holy spirit) He guides, challenges and saves the adventurers, but most often works through the world they inhabit, and only rarely pulls of a wizard/miracle event to save everyone. This where the mythological framework of Middle Earth jives with biblical truth: God’s not sent us on our journeys for his good or our fortune. Whatever your goal is, God’s plan is to forge a new you out of the old you. While he protects and guides us, he’s not merely in the business of dragon-slaying. If god wants the dragons of the world slain… he could do that himself.

I, like many of you I expect, have my own crises of calling from time to time. I know where I want to go, and while I am assured that this goal is a calling from God, he hasn’t shown up to put me in the express lane to get there.

What if Gandalf brought Bilbo on the journey to transform Bilbo (and by extention, the Shire, the Company, and Middle Earth)? What if the good he is trying to bring about, and the justice he is trying to serve isn’t just the slaying of a particular dragon, but transforming the world of Middle Earth?

God has sent me on my journey to transform me. He wants a Kyle Baker that is more fully Kyle (and more fully Christ) than I am. In the process of transforming me, he’ll also transform (and bring a hint of redemption to) those I journey with, and the places we journey through.

This thought gave me incredible comfort.